Immaculée Mukasine, 57, and her daughter survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. She with her then four-month-old daughter and her husband fled to hide in the hills after they were denied entry at the Burundian border. Unfortunately, her husband and 45 members of her extended family were killed.
She spent four months in Huye District wandering in the woods until she was rescued by the Rwanda Patriotic Army. She later returned to the ruins of her home in Rurangazi cell, Nyagisozi sector, Nyanza District in 1995 with her daughter. She chose to forgive the past and start a new life. She lived with her neighbor for a while.
She took on odd jobs like cultivating people’s land where she earned Rwf 120 daily. Mukasine got inspiration through inspirational messages from officials on radio programs that encouraged Rwandans to work harder. With the little savings, she ventured into banana farming and cattle rearing on her family’s damaged land in 1997.
They say, ‘one by one makes a bundle.’ Mukasine can attest to that because she now owns hectares of banana plantations and two rental houses, earning at least Rwf 230,000 from bananas, rent, and selling milk from her farm. She employs four permanent staff who work on the banana plantation and look after the cattle. She has become a successful woman and an inspirational role model to other Genocide widows.
They created Duterimbere Savings Group – a savings group where genocide widows contribute Rwf 100 per month to support one another in terms of health insurance, as well as solving family basic needs. Being a leader, she preaches forgiveness and embracing love and unity as. The group received Rwf 1 million from the Genocide Survivors Fund three years ago which they invested in businesses like selling beans and vegetables.
“Within three years, our group has been beneficial to us all. We started small businesses and the widows’ living conditions have improved significantly. They are now self-reliant and financially stable. The beneficiaries also own livestock and are able to pay for health insurance without relying on other people,” says Mukansine.
Kezia Mukeshimana, who was inspired to join the group, says that her life has changed for better, economically and emotionally, since she joined.
“The group works as a platform to share our life experience, as well as help one another become economically strong. The group has enabled me to pay for health insurance on time. It is not easy for women to single-handedly manage a family, but I can testify that it is possible if one has confidence and a vision of where they want to be,” Kezia Mukeshimana, one of the most recent recruits explains.
Mukasine, has this to say: “We are proud of our present. Our past was terrible but today we sing unity. Our history should not discourage us. Instead, work hard and rebuild what was destroyed. We lost our relatives and property but we have restored our hope to live longer and happier.” This is the true definition of resilience and passion for life. #Rewordit